The Mental State of the Tech Industry
5 Minute Read
Mental health in the workplace has been at the front of everyone’s mind since the beginning of the pandemic. While transitioning to working from home, being isolated from friends and family, and feeling anxious about getting sick have certainly affected nearly everyone in the world, research suggests that IT professionals are among the most likely to suffer.
According to the Coping after Covid report from Westfield Health, around 20% of IT workers are finding it hard to adjust to the new ways of working and 34% are getting anxious about work. Furthermore, the study found that 44 per cent of IT professionals said their mental health has been affected since the pandemic.
Another study conducted by AppDynamics asked over 1,000 tech professionals about how the pandemic affected their jobs. 80 per cent reported that their job became more complex in 2020, 89 per cent reported feeling more pressure at work than ever, and 84 per cent found it difficult to “turn off” at the end of their workday.
In an interview with Tech Times, Naveen Bhateja, Chief People Officer of Medidata Solutions, said, ” The tech industry fosters a ‘crunch’ culture where demanding work must be completed in a short amount of time. The industry is known for high-stress: late nights, abnormal hours, and tight deadlines, all while being constantly available at any time of day. The incredible feats that were accomplished from an IT standpoint during the pandemic speaks to that!”
The Effects of a Stressed-Out Workforce
While employees suffer from mental health issues, the organisations they work for will suffer, too. The correlation between mental health and productivity can no longer be ignored.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, employees who have untreated depression are 35 per cent less productive than those who have no mental illness or are receiving treatment for their mental illness. As a result, the United States economy loses $210.5 billion per year to absenteeism, reduced productivity, and medical coverage.
Moreover, it’s become all too apparent that employees are no longer willing to accept a work environment that does not support their mental health and well-being. Dr Tracy Brower, sociologist, author of The Secrets to Happiness at Work, and Forbes contributor says, “We’re seeing that mental health is viewed as being much more strategic. Because we know that employees are differentiating where they might work based on a company’s or an organisation’s approach to wellbeing and mental health.”
Therefore, tech organisations must prioritise employee mental health if they want to remain productive, retain top talent, and position themselves as industry leaders. As a result, we may see a stronger and more resilient tech workforce that is comprised of the best employees – and leaders – our industry has to offer.
How Tech Organisations Can Support Employee Mental Health
Research suggests that most tech employees:
- Do not talk to their employers about their mental health issues because they are worried about negative repercussions
- Are worried that being identified as a person with a mental health disorder will hurt their career
- Are not aware that their employers offer resources for mental health
Solving the issue of employee mental health in the tech industry begins and ends with its leaders. Leaders must normalise conversations around mental health issues, communicate exactly what resources are made available, and offer flexible work options for their valuable employees.
In most cases, this won’t require a complete overhaul of an organisation’s systems and processes – it can be as simple as holding regular meetings to remind employees what resources are available or empathetic conversations with individuals who seem to be struggling.
If your organisation isn’t sure where to begin, head to the UK Mental Health Foundation website. They provide a detailed checklist for creating mentally healthy workplaces. Here is a summary of each recommendation:
- Value mental health and wellbeing as core assets of your organisation
- Support the development of compassionate and effective line management relationships
- Address discrimination
- Value the diversity and transferable skills that lived experience of mental health problems bring and support disclosure
The sooner tech organisations prioritise employee mental health, the sooner we can leave the tech labour shortage behind. It’s quite possible that there is no shortage of valuable workers, but that workers are simply being pickier about where they focus their time and energy. Simply put: investing in the mental health and well-being of tech employees means more productivity and a better bottom line for organisations. It’s time to put employees first.
If your organisation is concerned about employee mental health, Inbay can help. We offer 24/7 outsourced technical support that will give valuable time and energy back to your employees, and offer you peace of mind. Contact us today to learn more about how our outsourced IT services can transform your business and create a healthier workplace.